When Valerie and Clive Warrington bought Hazelton, a ramshackle property situated on a stretch of prime Gloucestershire land, the possibilities must have seemed endless.
The house and its outbuildings are just moments from Bourton-on-the-Water, otherwise known in the tourist industry as the ‘Venice of the Cotswolds’ and a magnet for tourists drawn to one of the most charming and quintessentially English villages.
The Warringtons hoped eventually to tear down the rickety house and build a new one, along with holiday lodges to rent out.
But in March, nearly 25 years after Valerie and Clive purchased it, Hazelton was also where their son William embarked on a murderous rampage which saw him stab first his mother, then his father to death in cold blood after escaping from a secure mental health facility.
Valerie, 73, (left) and Clive Warrington, 67, (right) were stabbed to death by their son William Warrington, 42, on March 2 this year. He pleaded guilty to manslaughter at Bristol Crown Court last week
It was the tragic climax of years of declining mental health and erratic behaviour — which included him being given a restraining order for harassing the supermodel Kate Moss in 2019.
At Bristol Crown Court last week, the 42-year-old admitted killing 73-year-old Valerie and 67-year-old Clive, pleading guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility. He will now be detained indefinitely at Broadmoor Hospital, the UK’s most secure psychiatric facility.
But beyond a crime shocking in its barbarity, far-reaching questions remain about the events leading up to this horrific double parricide.
For, as the Mail has discovered, there were clear warning signs about the severe deterioration in William’s mental state in recent years, even as he and his mother (his parents separated around eight years ago) pushed on with dramatic plans for a lucrative holiday development.
In public, as we shall see, the tall, privately educated property developer was able to keep up appearances while dealing with planning consultants, architects and council authorities.
In April 2019 William was arrested handed a restraining order at Oxford Magistrates’ Court for harassing Kate Moss in Germany and at her Oxfordshire home, leaving bizarre items including a Phantom Of The Opera-styled mask on her doorstep
But in private, the heavy cannabis user and paranoid schizophrenic had become obsessed with certain films including Phantom Of The Opera and Atonement.
He spent hours on his computer and believed voices were speaking to him through films and via the television. By March this year, he believed he was being instructed to kill his parents.
William — known as Will to his family — was first arrested on suspicion of harassment in 2018. In April 2019, he was handed a restraining order at Oxford Magistrates’ Court for harassing Kate Moss after he had visited a studio in Germany where she was working and her Oxfordshire home, leaving bizarre items including a Phantom Of The Opera-style mask, a fake and a real sunflower, cake, champagne and a World War I helmet.
And after violently attacking his mother during lockdown in 2020 — more than a year before he killed his parents — William’s siblings turned to the police, health services and domestic violence charities for help.
A source close to the grieving relatives told the Mail this week that events were ‘too raw’ and ‘too awful’ for them to address in public. With devastated relatives blaming insufficient psychiatric care for the Warringtons’ ‘preventable’ deaths, a formal inquiry will now be held to investigate and address potential failings by the police and health services.
‘It’s almost unbelievable that this could have happened. It’s just devastating for those of us who knew them,’ says Paul Hodgkinson, a Liberal Democrat county councillor for Gloucestershire, who first met Valerie and William around 2015 over shared concerns about heavy traffic on the A429 which passes the entrance to Hazelton.
In 2019, William, whom he described as serious-minded and ‘very driven’ regarding his development plans, also contacted him for advice on building a new home and holiday lodges on their land.
He remembers Valerie as ‘a lovely woman, really engaging and lovely to deal with’.
He adds: ‘She was so engaged at public meetings. She got on well with people and that’s why it really is so disturbing to think of her not being there and the manner of her passing.
‘It wasn’t something that any of us who weren’t familiar with their private lives had any inkling of. Neighbours were shocked just like I was.’
But if William managed to keep up appearances outside the home, in private his family had come to dread his mood swings, rages and outbursts. They were particularly concerned about how he manipulated his mother, sponging off her even as she relied on him in the hope that once their property plans came to fruition she would get her money back.
Hospital secretary Valerie was already a widowed mother of two when she married Clive Warrington in Hertfordshire in 1981.
She inherited her first husband’s £30,000 car repair business and Clive, a former labourer, became its chairman. William was born in 1982 and a daughter and another son followed soon after.
The family relocated to the Cotswolds where Valerie and Clive began investing in buy-to-let property. For a while, business appears to have gone well. In the late 1980s, the family owned a vicarage in the idyllic Cotswold village of Cold Aston, now estimated to be worth around £2.3 million.
William absconded from The Wotton Lawn unit in Gloucester before killing his parents
William was educated privately at Rendcomb near Cirencester, where day fees are around £18,000 a year, and close to £40,000 for full-time boarders. Tall for his age and heavily built, he earned a reputation as a talented rugby player.
Eventually the business Valerie had inherited collapsed and was liquidated in 1992. According to the source who spoke to the Mail: ‘Val and Clive had money problems. They had to put their vicarage home on the market and when they sold it they downscaled.’
The couple bought Hazelton in 1998 and it became the family’s main home. Valerie and Clive are believed to have separated eight years ago, but in 2019 William and Valerie applied for planning permission to demolish and replace the house with a five-bedroom property and build two holiday lodges, containing four separate units, on adjacent land.
In March 2020, permission was granted for a new house but the Warringtons were slapped with a ‘community infrastructure levy’ which would have forced them to pay the council more than £41,000 once they started work.
Meanwhile, permission for the holiday lodges, which William and Valerie believed would bring about a reversal in their fortunes, was denied, largely on the basis that the ground there is dotted with fragments of Roman and pre-Roman structures of archeological interest. The Warringtons spent thousands arguing their case, but their appeal was finally dismissed in February 2021 by a government planning inspector.
Paul Hodgkinson recalls that throughout this drawn-out process, William ‘voiced his frustrations’ but ‘wasn’t agitated’.
But by the time the appeal was dismissed, William’s family were already seriously worried about his state of mind. He sent threatening and abusive emails, accusing family members of ruining his life.
In late 2020, he went on the rampage at Hazelton, destroying family photographs and scratching out the faces of relatives. On another occasion, he attacked his mother, grabbing her from behind by the neck, throwing her on the floor and telling her that he was going to kill himself.
William was arrested and told he could not return home but did so anyway. Fearing for Valerie’s safety, relatives fitted locks to her doors and windows.
Even then, William returned to the property at night, sleeping on a straw bale in an outhouse before gaining entry to the house.
According to a family source, Valerie was too afraid to do anything and didn’t want to be stigmatised by going to a domestic violence charity. Above all, she didn’t want to give up on her son at a time when she still believed that their development plans might be given the go ahead. Eventually she let him move back in.
But in November 2021, she contacted mental health services registering her concerns about William’s condition, telling them her son said he was receiving signs from the radio, TV and media.
By February this year, Will had been forced to leave Hazelton again. But even then, Valerie allowed him to live rent-free in a property divided into bedsits that she owned in the centre of Cheltenham.
It was there on February 17 this year that he attacked another tenant with a knife. He was detained under the Mental Health Act and taken to Wotton Lawn, an 88-bed acute mental health facility in Gloucester.
William leaving Oxford Magistrates Court after receiving a non-conviction restraining order for leaving ‘unwanted items’ at the home of supermodel Kate Moss in April 2019
But on March 1 he was allowed out on escorted leave and went to a nearby petrol station where he bought shampoo and got £100 cash back. He also booked a taxi, using the name Peter, to pick him up later that day from the unit.
That evening, he was allowed to walk, unaccompanied, from his ward to the courtyard. CCTV captured him leaving the unit through the reception front door.
The taxi he had booked collected him at 9.45pm. Yet it wasn’t until midnight that staff noticed he had gone and contacted the police to make a missing person report.
Tragically, no one warned Valerie or Clive, who was living at a separate address in Cheltenham, that their dangerously ill son was on the loose.
By this time William was en route to his mother’s home. After being picked up by the taxi, he had asked the driver to stop at a garage and buy him a small bottle of brandy and two bottles of Red Bull. They stopped again and bought another bottle of brandy.
Eventually running out of money, he was dropped five miles short of his mother’s home and continued to Bourton-on-the-Water on foot. Once there, as he had done many times before, he broke into the house where Valerie was sleeping.
William has given varying accounts of the exact sequence of events that night. He admitted attacking Valerie with a knife and inflicting injuries to her face and eyes before cutting her throat.
Afterwards he slept, before taking his mother’s body outside and driving over it in her car. At dawn, he set off on the 40-minute drive to Cheltenham, to kill his father in the same way. Neighbours were woken by shouting and loud noises and heard Clive pleading for help and asking: ‘Why are you doing this?’
While calling the police, they heard William calling his father a ‘c***’ and saying: ‘I am really going to enjoy this.’
By the time police arrived, Clive was dead. William, covered in blood, was arrested later, walking down a road. It was only then that they sent officers to check on Valerie at Hazelton and found another scene of utter horror.
In court last week, Mrs Justice Eady asked if Gloucestershire Police were aware of the threats Warrington had made against his family when they received the missing person report from Wotton Lawn on the night of March 1.
Looking at the police log, a prosecution lawyer told the judge: ‘From what it says on this document there is no indication that there was a particular danger to anybody posed by Mr Warrington.’
A Care Quality Commission inspection of Wotton Lawn earlier this year made no mention of the incident.
A previous court artist sketch of William Warrington appearing on screen by video link at Cheltenham Magistrates Court
Cllr Paul Hodgkinson, who is also the Liberal Democrat health spokesperson at Gloucestershire County Council, says: ‘The whole health service is under very intense pressure and things can happen. It’s very worrying.’
But he adds: ‘There has to be an inquiry. I would want to be reassured that that particular mental health facility for Gloucestershire is as secure as it can be.’
There are two forthcoming inquiries, in addition to a multi-agency ‘domestic homicide review’ — a mandatory requirement in cases involving relatives or those in relationships.
A spokesman for Gloucestershire Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust said: ‘The deaths of Clive and Valerie Warrington were both shocking and tragic and we continue to offer our sincere condolences to everyone affected.
As well as supporting Gloucestershire Police with their inquiry, we are undertaking our own investigation. The outcome will be shared with NHS England and the Care Quality Commission who will further scrutinise this as per national requirements. Any learning will be thoroughly addressed, however we will not say anything more until the family has been given the opportunity to be fully updated on the findings.’
For the Warringtons’ other children, any lessons learnt from this terrible tragedy will come too late.
William Warrington, 40, was charged with the murder of Clive (left) and Valerie (right) but a manslaughter plea was accepted
In a statement released last week, they said: ‘William’s mental health has visibly been in decline for the past decade and the deterioration accelerated due to a deficiency in support. As he lost his mind, we lost our brother.’
The devastated siblings added: ‘Our worst nightmares were realised in the crimes that were committed on March 2, 2022.
‘We couldn’t have foreseen the events of that day. However, weeks prior, fears for the safety of the family had been communicated to the emergency services, Gloucestershire Police and the NHS care trust at Wotton Lawn hospital.’
They concluded by saying that they believed William ‘continues to pose a threat to the family.
‘The idea that he might one day be released is horrifying. We remain living in fear for our safety.’